The Classic Team

Classic Escapes is a family owned boutique travel company specializing in nature and cultural journeys around the world. Our team represents decades of travel industry experience, and our itineraries are designed based on first-hand knowledge of our destinations. As such, we take great pride and care to ensure that our “family” is the most knowledgeable and attentive consultants around. We provide opportunities to our staff to engage in educationals around the globe so they can see and experience our destinations through their own eyes, thus escalating their enthusiasm to share their knowledge and adventures with you.

Stacy Fiorentinos
Stacy Fiorentinos
CEO

Stacy Fiorentinos, President of Classic Escapes, honed her skills at providing the best in nature and cultural travel around the world as Wildlife Program Director for a highly-respected tour operator in New York City from 1987 to 2002 and founded Classic Escapes in 2003. Born in Greece, Stacy has lived in New York City for over 40 years. Working with many of the major Zoos, Audubon Societies, Alumni Associations and special interest groups, Stacy has brought the culture and wilds of the world within reach in comfort and style for travelers from all over America and Canada. She has traveled extensively throughout East and Southern Africa (with over 50 visits), the Americas, the South Pacific, and Asia.

In keeping with Stacy’s mission to provide exciting, educational, and fun-filled experiences that nurture and directly support the diverse wildlife and cultures around the world, she has established the Classic Escapes Conservation Fund to ensure that a percentage of all profits go to support conservation and wildlife researchers performing their critical work in the field. Stacy is proud to bring together the finest staff of experts to the Classic Escapes team and together they personify the highest level of service, experience and knowledge in the industry.

Diana Fiorentinos
Diana Fiorentinos
VP

Diana is our second-in-command here at Classic Escapes. As Vice President, she oversees the accounting and HR duties in the office, and is the events master for our internal parties, outings, and beyond. She proofs a spectacular variety of the work that goes through the office, from costings, to website copy, to building customized itineraries.

Her Favorite Destination: Without question, Southern Africa. Though impossible to choose a single country or site, her first trip to an exotic destination was to this region, specifically to Botswana and Namibia, which holds a special place in her heart. She has treasured memories of quadding on sand dunes, tracking and trekking for rhino, interacting with indigenous tribes, and staring up at an unobstructed starry night sky. Though she has spent her  life spending summers with family in Greece, this complete shift in global perspective was the catalyst for her persistent travel bug.

Donna Barfield
Donna Barfield
Director of Sales-East US

Donna handles sales for all of our organizations east of the Mississippi River. When she’s not here in the office building trips, handling client relations, and strategizing, she is on the road doing travel nights on upcoming adventures, accompanying tours to exotic locations, and visiting clients to plan their next journey.

Her Favorite Destination: Without a doubt, the most magical place in the world, according to Donna, is the Canadian Arctic. She loves everything about its culture, its wildlife, and the local art. If you visit, she says you have to take a boat into Tanqueray Fjord. The natural beauty will swallow you up and chances are good you’ll catch sight of polar bears, seals, and her favorite animal, Peary’s Caribou, a diminutive species of caribou that only comes up to about waist height, and is all white in color.

Diane Barney
Diane Barney
Director of Custom Travel Sales

Diane builds custom trips for clients who are looking to build their own travel experience, from honeymoons in Africa to golden anniversaries on a yacht in Europe, getaways for friends along the Amazon River and family reunions among the pyramids. She specializes in taking the dreams of prospective travelers and turning them into the memories of seasoned adventurers.

Her Favorite Destination: At the risk of sounding like she’s sucking up to the boss, Diane admits she’s never fallen in love with a country quite the way she did the first time she traveled – to Greece. That first adventure out of the USA when she was 19 has shaped her life and love of discovering new places. She’s been back to Greece ten times, but finds it full of new and beautiful experiences each and every time.

Shannon Bennett
Shannon Bennett
Marketing Manager

Shannon is the Marketing Manager, in charge of all digital operations including the website, social media, and e-mail promotions. She serves as our copywriter and editor for all materials and manages branding for the company.

Her most beloved destination will always be London. It was the first stamp in her passport and her home for a time after finishing college. While there, she lived in the North End and spent time working in a corporate office in Oxford Circus and slinging pints as a barmaid in Stoke Newington. She says London is made up of history and culture, huge sprawling parks, and the bustling cosmopolitan ambiance of day-to-day life.

Carolyn Blackmar
Carolyn Blackmar
Director of Sales-West US

Carolyn is our sales director for all territory west of the Mississippi. She maintains client relationships, matches up clients with their best fitting travel programs, and is constantly on the look out for new opportunities. She tailors programs to the exact specifications of her clients, building incredible adventures to the most desired destinations in the world.

Carolyn is happy anywhere she is actively enjoying the great outdoors, racing sailboats in the Atlantic – or the Pacific, cycling through Switzerland – or Connecticut, skiing the Canadian Rockies – or the French Alps. Being out in nature is her ultimate inspiration.

Jeff Boulware
Jeff Boulware
Operations Support

Jeff is integral to our ops & sales departments, providing them with organization and support. He also is the master of our internal library and spends time meticulously binding, organizing, preparing, and shipping all pre-departure & final documents to each and every traveler!

His Favorite Destination: Berlin has been Jeff’s favorite foreign city so far, with just the right balance of history and nightlife, but his ultimate dream destination is Botswana, where one day he intends to take in all the charms of the desert and delta.

Lori Ellefsen
Lori Ellefsen
Operations Manager

Lori is one of our two operations managers, which means she serves as the liaison between organizations, suppliers, and travelers. She will make sure you have your ducks in a row before heading off to destinations unknown and she’ll be on the other end of the phone at 3:00 am when you call, panicked from Helsinki because you missed your connecting flight, ready to get you back in the air.

Her Favorite Destination: Lori loves Africa, which she says has gotten into her blood. Her favorite destination specifically, however, is South Africa. There’s something luxurious about it, she says. It’s pure magic.

Raj Fiorentinos
Raj Fiorentinos
Dir. of Security & Hospitality

Raj is responsible for keeping morale high and managing any crumbs dropped in the lunching area. He also screens all mail carriers for entry. Oddly, none have ever passed muster and set foot in our building. He has an on-again-off-again relationship with a curly haired firebrand named Malaika, who lives next door and freelances here at CE from time to time.

His Favorite Destination: The park is pretty good and so are piles of dead leaves, but to be honest, Raj is happiest wherever Stacy can be found. It is very bad when Stacy cannot be found. Come back, Stacy.

Vivian Fiorentinos
Vivian Fiorentinos
Inside Sales Associate

Vivian assists our inside sales department with a multitude of tasks, including special events and promotions. She spends her days taking on an impressive variety of tasks, from digital design to copy-editing, to cost analysis.

Choosing her favorite destination was a serious internal struggle for Vivian, but after much thought, she decided that it had to be India. Her lifelong love of history and cultural lore came to life there and the sensory delight of so many colors and flavors made a lasting impression. Though she’d never given much thought to Indian food prior to visiting, it has become a favorite ever since!

Kate Otter
Kate Otter
Inside Sales Associate

Kate works in our outside sales department, supporting Julie, working on proposals, creating itineraries, and developing new trips. She spends her days learning all there is to know about our prospective destinations, which equips her to assemble the best experiences and ask for the most competitive prices for our itineraries.

Her favorite place in the world is Peru. Though she had traveled around Europe, Kate considers her trip to Peru to be the first time she ever felt truly foreign. In addition to the traveler’s milestone of seeing Machu Picchu in person, the experiences of the people, the foods, the landscapes, and even the air in Peru left such a profound impression that, upon returning to the United States, she immediately began thinking of when she might go back.

Kathy Pluas
Kathy Pluas
Operations Manager

Kathy coordinates land and air arrangements for alumni groups. You’ll find her glued to the phone for much of her workday, serving as a liaison between clients and land operators. She devotes her workday to ensuring that travelers are prepared when they leave and happy when they return.

Her favorite place in the world is Texas. She says it’s not just a saying – everything really is bigger there! She especially loves the larger than life personalities of the locals and the big and bold flavors of Tex Mex food. She says when you visit, you have to make time for the Alamo, the JFK museum, and several plates of local barbecue.

Katya Rashkova
Katya Rashkova
Bookkeeper

Katya ensures that our accounting department runs smoothly and is the point person for all of the financial transactions that come and go through CE. It’s her job to keep all of our ducks in a row financially, and make sure we are on a positive trajectory for the year.

Her Favorite Destination: Her native Bulgaria is her favorite place in the world and she encourages everyone to visit. She recommends trying out Bulgarian food, like shopka salata, cheverme, banista, and Bulgarian yogurt. If she had to choose a place other than home, she says she has amazing memories of Niagara Falls.

Taisha Tropnasse
Taisha Tropnasse
Air Operations Manager

Taisha’s main focus at Classic Escapes is managing our air travel. Whether it’s liaising with the airlines, or just looking for the easiest and most comfortable route to adventure, she makes finding the best flight her priority. When she’s not handling air, she works on a variety of special projects, including conferences and traveler support.

Taisha says she still has a lot of travel to do, but her favorite destination will always be Haiti. To her, it’s like coming home, a place where she spent every summer of her childhood and where she learned about the value of community. She says it has the most beautiful beaches in the world and the best food. For visitors, she recommends Soup Joumou, the traditional fare of Haitian Independence Day, and getting to know the locals in the country who taught her what love is.

Julie Vriniotis
Julie Vriniotis
Director of Inside Sales

Julie is in charge of our inside sales department, and has the double duty of also being the office manager. She and her team work tirelessly to construct incredible trips in conjunction with hundreds of different vendors, camps, hotels, and service providers across the globe!

Her Favorite Destination: In November 2015, Julie fell in love with Tanzania. Between the staggering impact of African wildlife and the gregarious welcome of the people, she says it was a transformative experience that she hopes to one day repeat.

Elaine Wong
Elaine Wong
Production Manager

Elaine is our design guru, and spends her days crafting all of our promotional materials to her exacting design standards. She handles all marketing materials, both physical and digital, and coordinates with outside vendors for all finalized print items.

When asked where her favorite place on Earth was, Elaine admitted that though she’s been abroad many times, nowhere has ever come close to her home, New York.

Here in the city, each borough has its own unique charm and every hour of the day is a living one, with people out and about, getting up to a huge variety of activities. And just a few hours upstate, there are endless miles of beautiful mountain scenery, forested hiking trails, and peaceful farm land.